Westfield Group, the world’s biggest shopping centre owner by market value, yesterday reported an 11.6% rise in operating earnings in 2007 and forecast similar growth in 2008, but its net profit fell 38.4% as property revaluations slowed. Financial Times

The Sydney company said its geographically diverse portfolio, the quality of its shopping centres, strong cash position and large development pipeline would help it to weather the US economic downturn and softer consumer spending in key markets.

'The fundamental drivers of the business are a well positioned, high quality, globally diversified shopping centre portfolio combined with a strong financial position and an experienced management team,' the group said.

Earnings dropped to A$3.44bn ($3.24bn) from A$5.58bn in 2006 as revenue, including property revaluations, fell 28% to A$6.67bn from A$9.20bn in 2006. Diluted earnings per share rose 6.8% to 11.6 cents.